Running a business is no picnic and as we’ve learnt in the past two years, the world can throw some crazy obstacles your way that can be incredibly challenging to navigate. One of the few positives for small business owners to take away from this period is that there are thousands of others in the same boat, many of whom willing to share the ups, downs and lessons learned during this undoubtedly trying time. These lessons are ones that can be applied to both the still unsteady waters we continue to navigate today and the hopefully less complicated future ahead. Here are three simple lessons that small businesses owners across the country, and the world, have learned in the past 24 months.
IT’S ALL ABOUT BEING ONLINE
At the risk of pointing out the incredibly obvious, businesses who had already had a strong foundation online were able to significantly mitigate the damages early in the pandemic as in-person trading quickly became unfeasible in lockdown. While in New Zealand, organisations like Chooice NZ (formerly New Zealand Made Products) attempted to help local small businesses find their feet in the web space, there’s a lot to be said for having a strong internal understanding of the technology that is going to sustain your business through the uncertain circumstances. But it’s not enough to just have the online options available, as it is just as important that the business has a comprehensive understanding of the tools and software they are using, as well as their audience, in order to effectively make the transition work.
… AND THAT’S APPLIES TO YOUR OWN TEAM TOO
Online ability doesn’t just apply to working with customers and clientele. The last two years have proved that it’s of equal importance to ensure your business is adaptable in terms of how you and your workers are able to perform their jobs in unforeseen circumstances. This isn’t just having a Slack chat or getting everyone a zoom account. Its making sure your employees have all the resources (and the knowledge of how to use those resources) at home to do their job at their best level. Remote work offers a very different dynamic to on-site, so it is crucial that business owners account for that and make sure their employees are satisfied and comfortable with the set up in place.
One of the main drawbacks of the lockdown in general, but particularly as it pertains to work, is the lack of variation between each day and that while the loosening of restrictions and the return to the office will likely lead to some more interesting days, the stress of the difficult year has more than likely increased the likelihood of the dreaded burnout, both among owners themselves and their staff. For employees, understanding and communication are key to keeping your business’ most important people happy and motivated. For owners themselves, it’s down to acknowledging the stress and recapturing the motivation, the why one might say, to keep you pushing through the tough times. Burnout is normal, inevitable even, but certainly not insurmountable with the right management.